Section 5The End of the Cold War30.5 The End of the Cold War
The nearly half a century of Cold War betweenthe United States and the Soviet Union came toan end in around 1990.The effects of its conclusion were many. EasternEuropean nations gained independence and theUnited States emerged as the world’s solesuperpower.What were the causes and effects of theend of the Cold War?
The Soviet Union began to decline due toflaws in its system.• Collectivized agriculture was not productive enough,so Russia had to import grain.• Soviet consumer goods were inferior to those ofWestern market economies.• There was inefficiency, waste, and a hugebureaucracy that chose to produce unneeded goods.
They sent tanksinto Hungary in1956 andCzechoslovakia in1968 to preventthese nations fromruling themselves.Despite these problems, the Soviet Union kept upits military commitments and tried to match theUnited States in the arms race.The production of all this military hardware left few resourcesfor improving the day-to-day lives of the Soviet people.
When the Soviet-backedAfghan governmentenacted land reforms andredistribution, Afghanlandlords took up armsagainst the government.The SovietUnion becameembroiled ina conflict inAfghanistanin 1979.The Soviets stepped in and had heavy casualtiesagainst the American-supported mujahedin. Thiswas another blow to the communist empire.• mujahedin – Muslim religious warriors inAfghanistan
Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in theSoviet Union in 1985 and was determinedto bring about reforms.• He pulled Soviets out of Afghanistan and signednew arms control treaties.• He called for glasnost, or openness, andperestroika, restructuring of the governmentand economy.• Gorbachev also moved the Soviet Union towardlimited private enterprise.• glasnost – a policy in the Soviet Union ofgreater openness• perestroika – restructuring of government and the economy in the SovietUnion
Soviet hardlinersstaged a failedcoup. Gorbachevresigned andthe Soviet Unionbroke up into12 independentnations in 1991.EasternEuropeannations seizedthe period ofunrest todeclare theirindependence.Thesereformsled tounrest andsoaringprices.
• Eastern bloc countries demanded freedom andresented Russian rule• Poland’s surge of resistance in the 1980s helpedpave the way toward Eastern Europeanindependence.Throughout the Soviet Union’s time in controlin Eastern Europe, unrest was common andrevolts routinely erupted.
Lech Walesa ledstriking workerswho formed theSolidarity laborunion in 1980.This organization demandedpolitical changes. ThoughWalesa was arrested, hebecame a national hero andwas elected president ofPoland in 1990.During this time, East German leaders resisted change.But when Hungary opened its border with Austria,thousands of East Germans fled to West Germany.Lech Walesa – the leader of Polish shipyardworkers who organized an independent labor union that called forpolitical and economic changes;later elected president of PolandSolidarity – an independent labor union in Poland
One by one,communistgovernmentsacross EasternEurope fell.People took to the streetsto demand reform. Thegates of the Berlin Wallwere opened, and thenthe wall came down.Václav Havel, a dissident activist, was electedpresident in Czechoslovakia. The nation peacefullydivided into two in 1992.Václav Havel – a dissident writer and humanrights activist who was elected president ofCzechoslovakia in 1989
Communism began to decline around the world.• Some communist regimes adopted reforms. InChina, compromises with capitalism led to a hugeeconomic boom. There were no major politicalreforms.• Vietnam opened up to the world in the 1990s,while North Korea maintained complete isolation.• Cuba declined without support from the Soviets.
The United Statesemerged from allof the upheavalas the world’sleading militarypower, but itseemed unsureabout its role.Some Americansdidn’t want to be theworld’s policeman,but others thoughtthe country shouldplay an even biggerpart in world events.
Causes: Economic stagnation pressured theSoviet Union toward change, and leaders such asMikhail Gorbachev insti- tuted policies thatfurthered that change.Effects: Economic and political change spreadthrough Eastern Europe as the Soviet Unioncollapsed. America emergedas the world’s sole superpower.What were the causes and effects of the end ofthe Cold War?